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Europe > Benelux > Netherlands > Southern Netherlands > Limburg (Netherlands) > South Limburg > Valkenburg aan de Geul

Valkenburg aan de Geul

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Not to be confused with Valkenburg in the Bollenstreek..
Castle ruins overlooking the town

Valkenburg is a city in the south of the Netherlands, usually buzzing with visitors. It has been a major domestic tourist destination for decades and packed with hotels, bars and restaurants. The crowds that gather here in summer partly come for the town's interesting historic sights but also for the general atmosphere and facilities. Christmas is the second high season here, with plenty of decorations up from the start of November and famous Christmas markets in December. In many ways, Valkenburg as a town seems to encourage visitors to just have a good time.

Understand[edit]

Siege and conquest were characteristic of the history of Valkenburg, and the town's centre holds plenty of evidence of former grandeur. The castle in the middle of the city - of which now only a ruin remains - was destroyed in December 1672. Only two city gates (the Berkelpoort and the Grendelpoort) and a part of the city walls survived destruction and both have been thoroughly restored in recent years.

In 1853 a railway station was built on a line connecting the two cities of Maastricht and Aachen, making it possible to discover the charming little town of Valkenburg.

Nowadays Valkenburg is famous for its cycling events and its touristic character. There are several attractions to be found within walking distance of the city centre, and the many hotels, restaurants and café's cater to domestic and international travellers of all ages.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Valkenburg has the oldest stone train station in the Netherlands. It is on the train line between Heerlen and Maastricht with connections from both sides every 15 minutes. The trainline is operated by Veolia Transport [1]; train trips can be planned with the NS Reisplanner [2]. The city center can be reached on foot from the train station in 5 minutes.

By car[edit]

The city is also situated along the A79 motorway between Heerlen and Maastricht, making it easily accessible by car. There are several indicated parking spaces, usually for a fairly steep fee. In high season, parkings fill up fast so arriving early is a good idea. Otherwise, count on walking a bit further.

By bus[edit]

Buses depart from the bus station, near the train station, to Maastricht (line 51 en 53), Gulpen and Geleen (line 49) and other places in the region.

Get around[edit]

Map of Valkenburg aan de Geul

Most attractions are easily reached on foot from the city center. Both Thermae 2000 and the Holland Casino are at the top of the Cauberg and require a fair climb for Dutch standards. The tourist office [3] [dead link] (VVV) can be found near the large rock (Kei) in the city center.

It is also possible to rent a bike to explore the beautiful surroundings of the city. Within a ten-minute walk from the train station bikes can be rented from Cyclecenter.

Zuid Limburgse Stoomtrein Maatschappij operates a steam locomotive between Valkenburg and Kerkrade and a branch to Vetschau in Germany. Trains run during the summer holiday season, the Sinterklaas (November to December 5) period and the Christmas period.

See[edit]

Rainbow Spiral Building in winter
  • 1 Early Roman Catholic Catacombs (reconstruction), Plenkertstraat 55, e-mail: . This remarkable reconstruction of ancient Roman catacombs may not hold any actual graves, but it does provide a fine insight in the structure and purpose of these old Roman subterranean dwellings. Visitors are shown around by a guide who can offer a good range of details. Try to make reservations in advance, if you want an English language guided tour. The whole thing was initiated in the early 20th century by the rather eccentric Jan Diepen, who made his fortune in the textile industry but was an amateur archeologist. €7.50/3.75 for adults/children.
  • 2 Kasteel Den Halder, Kerkstraat 31. Castle is not open to visitors.
  • 3 Town Walls and Valkenburg old houses. To the south of Valkenburg rises the Dwingelrots (Castle Rock), which is crowned by the ruined castle of the lords of Valkenburg. The castle was founded in the 12th century; the tower and the fortified communicating passages, some of them hewn from the rock, were built later. After several sieges and several rebuilds, the ruined castle was abandoned in 1672. A secret passage led from the castle to the caves hewn from the rock below.
  • 4 Christmas Market. This is not just any Christmas market; it's one of the most famous in the wide region. Taking place in and around the catacombs, it's a market much after the German traditions of Christmas markets. You'll find all kinds of decorations plus some tasty sweets and food. The city as a whole is brought in Christmas spheres far more than average and people from nearby and far come to town for an afternoon of shopping and a glass of glüwein.

Do[edit]

Megalosaurus inside the Gemeentegrot

The local marlstone was already being used as a building material in Roman times. The underground quarrying of the stone has left a series of caves, which is arguably the number one attraction that stands out in Valkenburg. You could visit any number of times and still find something new and different. The caves themselves are a treasure chest of art and expression. As a tip, take a digital camera (with a flash, the guide is the only person who has a torch!) and be prepared to take a lot of photographs. There are amazing images and drawings hidden away in the darkness.

  • 1 Gemeentegrot (Municipal Cave). It was used as a bomb shelter during the World War II.
  • 2 Fluweelengrot. With an exhibition illustrating the origins and development of man. If you take the 1-hour guided walk, you will be hard pushed to do more than catch a glimpse of some of the amazing wonders and sights.
  • Panoramagrot. Largest panorama painting in the Netherlands. Only open in July & August.
  • 3 Valkenier. Recreation/theme park well suited to children up to 10 years old.
  • 5 Thermae 2000. Extensive bathing facilities opened in 1989 with hot mineral bath, saunas, whirpool, etc.
  • 8 A gogo (Rodel course Valkenburg), Heunsbergerweg 9, 6301 BN Valkenburg, +31 43 609 0609, e-mail: . This place offers a range of activities, including a cabelcart, laser gaming, tubing, luging, and mini-golf. It's best to call or email ahead for reservations.
  • 9 Mystery House (Escape Rooms), De Guascostraat 6, 6301CT Valkenburg a/d Geul, +31 43 737 0189, e-mail: .

Buy[edit]

The town is large enough to have all the regular stores (including supermarkets and clothing shops) but due to its touristy nature it also has some boutiques and a range of gift and souvenir shops.

The main shopping streets are the Passage, Dr. Erensstraat, Grotestraat, Lindenlaan and the Louis van der Maesenstraat. The Walramplein and Wilhelminastraat have some good shops as well.

  • 1 Aarts-Mergelatelier, Berkelstraat 14, +31 43 601 6653. If you'd like to take a piece of the typical local sandstone with you, this family-run place has all kinds of carved figures for sale. It also works on demand, and anything from giant statues to tiny name plates can be arranged. Simple requests are often done while you wait. If you're interested, they also give workshops.
  • 2 Culitalia, Lindenlaan 23, 6301 HA Valkenburg aan de Geul, +31 43 601 0020. For anyone who loves Italian cuisine, this Italian mercato-like shop is a mouth-watering place.

Eat[edit]

There's a wide range of good places to eat, from simple bistros to fancy up-scale restaurants. Most hotels in Valkenburg also have a restaurant, so you'll never have to walk far to find something that fits your wishes.

  • 1 El Castillo, Muntstraat 6, +31 43 601 57 55. Mexican restaurant with a buffet menu that offers a wide choice of soups, main dishes, deserts, etc. The restaurant is well decorated and has a large garden that is open all-year round. Be aware that this is a popular restaurant, so reservations are advised during weekends and holidays. Buffet: €25.50.
  • 2 Chez Paul, Broekhem 130, +31 43 751 8150. Great food and excellent service make this one of the best rated restaurants in town. The dishes are original, well prepared and beautifully plated. Make sure to call ahead. €35.
  • 3 [dead link] Brasserie Komma, Grotestraat Centrum 19, 6301 CV Valkenburg, +31 43 601 1366. In summer, the large outdoor terrace of this place is a popular place for a good value meal and for some people watching. The dishes are simple but tasty: homemade soups and pastas, chicken saté and such. Mains from €12, 3-course menu fom €19.50.
  • 4 Brazza, Grote Straat 18, +31 43 601 2300. This Argentine restaurant is the place to go for juicy, charcoal roasted steaks. It has a pleasant covered outdoor terrace. There's a range of sauces and veggies to be ordered with the fine meats. €25.

Drink[edit]

There are countless places to eat ánd drink, and there's even a bit of serious dancing happing here on weekends and in holidays. Young people from the area come to town to join tourists in one of many bars and clubs, and even restaurants that move their tables aside and turn the music up at night.

  • 1 [formerly dead link] Café Cabo Cabo, Grotestraat Centrum 10, +31 436013581. Th-Su 19:00-02:00. This is what the Dutch call a "dance-café", a place that holds the middle between a bar and a real club. In any case, there's plenty of opportunity to dance and a wide range of music is played.
  • 2 Grand Café Bonne Parte. During weekdays this is a bistro, serving simple food and coffee. On Fridays and Saturdays from 22:00, however, the music is turned up and the place changes into a dance-café.
  • 3 [formerly dead link] Rockcafé the Cadillac, Grotestraat Centrum 41. If rock music or alternative pop is what you like, this is the place for you. It sometimes has live gigs too. Between 14:00 and 18:00 is serves some small dishes and snacks.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under €40
Mid-range €40 to €70
Splurge Over €70

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Other[edit]

Connect[edit]

Many establishments offer WiFi to guests. This is not only true for hotels, but increasingly for bars and restaurants as well. GSM coverage is good.

Go next[edit]

All the other South-Limburg destinations are within easy distance. Don't miss lively Maastricht, one of the country's most beautiful cities, packed with culture and history. Go hiking and enjoy the scenery around Vijlen and Vaals or hop on the heritage train in Simpelveld.

If you're looking to cross borders, Aachen in Germany is a bus ride away, and Liège in Belgium is an hour's drive.

Routes through Valkenburg aan de Geul
PieterburenSittard  N Pieterpad long distance walking route S  Sint-PietersbergEND


This city travel guide to Valkenburg aan de Geul is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.


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Valkenburg aan de Geul